On-line learning, business coaching
and workshops that bring results


We help organisations and entrepreneurs like you attract new customers and grow their business by developing knowledge and skills to market and sell with confidence. We believe in joined-up thinking.We help you understand what works and why, so everything you do makes a difference.

Our approach is refreshingly different. We help you understand how your marketing works from end to end so you know what tactics will work for you and why. Our on-line marketing course is called The NEW Marketing Blueprint because it takes a refreshingly NEW approach and gives you a blueprint or plan to build your own marketing strategy. We don’t leave you to do this on your own either, the course includes virtual support and we have extended support packages where we can provide personalised coaching to help you on your journey to grow your business. 

Please explore the many free guides, tips and resources in Ascent Learning and if you want to keep up to date with all the new marketing and sales content we publish please join our Ascent Club!

About Ascent Learning

Ascent Learning is part of Pure Potential, the leadership and management development consultancy established in 2000 by Olwyn Merritt. Through Ascent Learning we provide on-line courses, face to face workshops and follow-up coaching to help you apply what you have learned. As business leaders ourselves, we combine our first-hand business experience with consulting and coaching skills to help you achieve great results from our courses and workshops.

Neville Headshot Smart Cropped 1000px
Neville Merritt
Olwyn Merritt
Olwyn Merritt
Courses & Workshops

Our on-line courses and face to face workshops are designed to be highly practical, containing guidelines and tools that you can immediately apply in your own workplace for quick results.

Learning support

Our courses and workshops include support after the event to provide further guidance as you try out new approaches and use the knowledge you have gained. This means you can be assured that your investment in training will be amply repaid through results.

Sharing experience

As experienced business executives ourselves, we have been through the same challenges that our clients face. This first-hand understanding helps us guide our clients and ensure that our courses are highly relevant to the business environment today.

Unique Approach

We are different because of our unique combination: face to face training methods applied to on-line learning; formal training followed by a period of support; course content explaining Why, not just What; training from experienced business people and of course, there is no-one quite like us anyway.

Field Notes

Tips, guides and articles on marketing, sales and operations to help you grow your business

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“Black Box Thinking” by Matthew Syed (book review)

A colleague recommended I read “Black Box Thinking” by Matthew Syed. Not quite knowing what to expect, I did. And what a powerful message. A message about the value of learning from mistakes, and the critical importance of maintaining an organisational culture that welcomes the opportunity to learn from failure rather than punishing it. The title comes from the key example of the benefits of this approach. As you can

Data Protection that children would understand

Despite the publicity, there still seems to be mystique and misunderstanding about the Data Protection rules (GDPR) yet the principles are very simple. So simple in fact that you could explain them to a child. The original terminology can be off-putting but let’s see through that to the seven key principles in Article 5 of the GDPR which guide data protection: If you borrow toys (personal information) you must play

Happy GDPR Christmas Nonsense

I am sure you have come across some daft ways of making life difficult, attributed to GDPR. Here are a collection of some bonkers Christmas-related GDPR challenges and the facts behind them. You can’t contact parents to tell them what stall they will be running at the school Xmas Fayre because you don’t have their express consent  Churches cannot ask for Christmas prayers for named parishioners who are ill or

The next bigger thing (than the technology)

I was flattered to be included in the list of “Thought Leaders” at the IoT-Build (Internet of Things) Conference this week, and invited to join the panel to discuss skills and training needs for the workplace. Chaired by Matt Hatton of Gartner, we had an interesting and wide-ranging discussion on the changing skills required, which in turn is impacted by our education system, social and business cultures and even politics.

How to interact with your website visitors like a pro…

A Chat feature on your website can increase engagement particularly at that vital point when visitors are about to place an order or take further action. It also makes your business appear sophisticated, professional and well-established. You might have thought that having a Chat feature for website visitors is only for brands with big budgets and thousands of visitors. Not so. There are a number of Chat applications that can

Can I send an email without consent?

The G-word isn’t history yet, and there still seems to be confusion about whether you can send marketing emails to people. In fact it is not GDPR that covers this, but the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which has been around since 2003 – last updated in 2018. The ICO have a helpful checklist on what can and can’t be done here:  , and plenty of helpful guidance on PECR

DIY Marketing Video Tip #2: How long is long enough?

I attended the excellent London Hubspot User Group today, and at least half of the entire event was about video in marketing. The huge growth of video was predicted two years ago, but the actual adoption figures exceed all expectations. It is a really, really big deal for all marketers – and any other business communication for that matter. One of the questions that came from the floor was “How can

DIY Marketing Video Tip #1: Rule of Thirds

I’m sure that if you are a photographer or art student you will know this, but it is easy to forget why it was discovered and why it can make a difference to your videos too. When I was in art class aged…10 I think, I remember my art teacher drawing a straight line down the centre of a sheet of paper. He said “How can we make this more

Hope for the best, plan for the worst and expect to be surprised

This title is two quotes combined – from authors Denis Waitley and Lee Child. It neatly encapsulates a “light-bulb” moment I had during an excellent briefing on Business Risk, delivered by Nick Moon of Applied Resilience. I know this is not as exciting as sales and  marketing, but if we are to run a successful and sustainable business we need to make sure we can weather any storms that come

How to spot a marketing dinosaur

We recently hosted a seminar at techUK presented by Grant Leboff of “Sticky Marketing” fame, and it was a revelation. Grant has the ability to put into words the things you might have been secretly wondering about, and he is not afraid to challenge conventional thinking. Here in a nutshell is his challenge to the “Four P Marketing Mix”: Product, Promotion, Price and Place. These were introduced in the early

What the food industry can teach us about GDPR, and it’s not what you might think

Despite all the coverage of GDPR, I am still hearing people say “I don’t think it applies to us, or “can we avoid it somehow?” The answer is: GDPR is just as relevant to all organisations, large and small, as food hygiene and traceability is to all food manufacturers. However, food manufacturers don’t just comply with regulations because they have to, nor do they comply because they might get a

There is more to listening than not talking

You can’t go through sales training without having the importance of listening drummed into you. “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” etc. etc. Yet I don’t remember ever being taught how to listen in those courses – developing an understanding of listening skills came much later, through management development and an interest in psychology. I wish I had learned before. My favourite sales quote comes

A-B-C Always Be Closing

Made famous – or infamous – by Alec Baldwin in the classic sales film “Glengarry Glen Ross”. It is associated with the hard sell, aggressive style of the stereotype snake-oil salesman. Sure, closing is important but an obsession with closing didn’t fit with my consultative sales style. Until the light came on. Another sales mantra I have picked up from several methodologies is the “Up-front Contract”. Put the two together

Why open answers kill your sales opportunities

On day one of sales training I expected you were told you have two ears and one mouth for a reason – you can sell more by listening. They explained how to ask open, rather than closed questions to get the prospect talking. Then there was the part about solutions rather than products, because our product is more than just a product, it helps the customer achieve something else. All

6 classic copywriting structures that still work today

Apparently John Emory Powers (1837-1919) was the world’s first full-time copywriter. Famous authors including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Heller, Dorothy L. Sayers, Salman Rushdie and Fay Weldon all spent time employed as copywriters. Writing copy that helps sell is not new, and many of the structures developed decades ago work just as well online and in social media today. Here are six structures that you can use to create interest

Why selling beads is easier than selling necklaces

Here is a scenario which will be familiar to many. You follow up a sales lead and have a meeting with the prospect. Your solution is a great fit for their business and you go away to prepare a detailed proposal. You put a lot of work into this proposal and the prospect is bound to be impressed. You go back and present the proposal. The prospect is indeed impressed,

How to read your buyer’s mind: handling the real objections

Objection handling is taught in every sales school, and we all have to deal with objections throughout our lives – from difficult customers to our nearest and dearest. I learned early on that an expressed objection was often not the real issue, and sometimes the individuals negotiating didn’t even realise what their underlying objection really was. Often we hear “it’s too expensive”, when the price isn’t the real issue but

A Guide to GDPR for business leaders and marketers (and 10 steps to take now…)

The new regulation The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been coming up a lot in conversations with business leaders recently. Although most people know it is very important, there are still many who don’t have a clear picture of what it is and what it means to their business. This short feature provides an executive-level overview and what you need to do about it. Hopefully it provides enough information

How BEARS can help us sell (or the psychology of buying)

Our amazing brains do more than think. Just like a computer, they have “background processes” constantly running, watching out for potential danger just as they have done for thousands of years to keep us alive. Now, most of us don’t have to worry about being pounced on by predators but our protective instincts haven’t caught up with our social evolution. That hidden brain activity is still operating and we can

5 Steps to Ensure Your Training Investment Leads to Results

……. “We spend money on training but we don’t see any result – is it worth it?” This is a common reaction at senior level, particularly in times of uncertainty where every discretionary spend is under scrutiny. My response is: make it worth it. The purpose of training is to change something – increase knowledge, improve skills or change behaviour. There is no point in training without paying close attention

See all Field Notes


Very enjoyable course. Neville was an engaging trainer who clearly knows the topic well and was able to articulate the content in a concise and informative way.

Introduction to Finance


Neville explained the topics very well and demonstrated with examples. We got the opportunity to apply some of the topics through pair-work and the re-cap at the end also reinforced the topics learned.

Business Writing


Really informative course. Made you consider the audience for demos/presentations which in turn made you consider the way you present and the language used.

Effective Pre-Sales Consulting


The course was without doubt the best I’ve done… I was nervous about doing this one due to the presentation side but I’m really glad I did it. I actually had to do a presentation the next day and the skills I learned helped immensely.     Neville was brilliant.

Presenting With Impact


Overall I thought this course was really useful and would definitely recommend to my colleagues.  I am looking forward to doing Level 2.    I thought Neville was great and the pace and the timing of the course was perfect.

Introduction to Finance



Here is a collection of our own videos and ones we particularly like from other contributors. There are also ebooks and assessments to download and enjoy.

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Marketing content and the buyer's journey

What customers spend before they buy

How to align the length of your marketing content to each stage of the buyer’s journey for maximum impact and results

Avoid these 3 killer mistakes in your marketing campaigns

A cheeky look at a big-budget marketing campaign that demonstrates three mistakes that you need to avoid with your own campaigns

Another LinkedIn Tip for Networking

How to use the LinkedIn “Find Nearby” feature